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Click here to learn more about Shipwrite's seminars.

Click here to learn more about our logo--Sir Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hinde

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About Kevin Monahan

Kevin Monahan is a retired Canadian Coast Guard officer with more than 20 years experience navigating the British Columbia coast as a small vessel captain. Born in London England in 1951, Monahan--now a resident of Qualicum Beach, BC--emigrated to Vancouver, and attended the University of British Columbia. He worked as a fisherman for 12 years, and on ferries and coastal transports, before joining Fisheries and Oceans Canada as a patrol vessel captain. 

After the merger of the Canadian Coast Guard with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Kevin continued his work as a Coast Guard commanding officer, and later, he joined the Coast Guard's Office of Boating Safety as supervisor of inspections and investigations for the Pacific Region. He served as Superintendent of the Office of Boating Safety (now part of Transport Canada Marine) from 2001 to 2005. 

In 2005, Kevin moved to Transport Canada National Headquarters in Ottawa, Ontario. There he worked as a regulatory project manager until he retired from the Federal Government in 2012. 

Kevin Monahan

Kevin has lectured to the Community of Federal Regulators on the incorporation by reference into legislation of government, industry and IMO (International Maritime Organization) standards and has contributed to the implementation of the Canada Shipping Act, 2001. In 2013, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his "contributions to the excellence of the public service".  

Kevin has provided expert testimony in court, including expert testimony on the navigational uses of GPS. He is the sole author of The Radar Book and Local Knowledge--A Skipper's Reference, and principal author of GPS Instant Navigation and Proven Cruising Routes Volume 1--Seattle to Ketchikan. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines.

Following his retirement from the Canadian public service, Kevin worked until 2022 as the Managing Director of Chyna Sea Ventures, publisher of Ports and Passes, a tide and current guide for the west coast. He also gives seminars on nautical and northwest subjects, and teaches part time at Western Maritime Institute in Ladysmith, BC. 

About The Golden Hinde

More about Hugh Monahan

Hugh Monahan Art Gallery

As a young boy, my father, Hugh Monahan, was fascinated by ships and trains. While this may seem an odd combination of interests, it provided him with plenty of opportunity to sketch and paint. As a young man he moved to India and became a soldier, serving for 12 years in the famous Ghurka brigades of the Indian Army. But his first love had always been painting and, after World War II, he turned to wildlife art, eventually supporting his family with his paintings.

After his death in 1970, I discovered some sketches he had made as a child, and chief among them was a pen and ink rendering of the Golden Hinde which I chose as the logo for Shipwrite Productions

Kevin Monahan

Sir Francis Drake and The "Golden Hinde" 

Beside the Victory and the Titanic, the Golden Hinde takes its place in history as one of the best known British ships for its circumnavigation of the world from 1577 to 1580. For 30 years, the Golden Hinde adorned the reverse of the English half-penny to commemorate this astounding achievement.

With Sir Francis Drake in command, a fleet of five small ships left Plymouth in December 1577. As was to be expected in the 16th century, by the time the expedition reached the Pacific Ocean via the Strait of Magellan, only one remained--the Golden Hinde.

Drake then turned his little ship to the north, and raided the Spanish settlements in Chile, Peru and Mexico. But he was not content to stop his explorations in California. Until recently, historians believe he sailed as far as the Columbia River, or perhaps even to Cape Flattery, at the entrance to Juan de Fuca Strait (which now separates Canada and the United States), but certainly no further. 

Conventional wisdom has it that on completion of his northwest explorations, Drake then turned south and landed in Northern California, (or possibly Oregon), claiming the land for Queen Elizabeth I and naming the land Nova Albion. However, Sam Bawlf, a Canadian marine historian, believes that Drake actually explored the Pacific coast of British Columbia and the Alaska panhandle under secret orders from Queen Elizabeth to search for the Northwest Passage. If Bawlf's theory is correct it means that Drake explored northwest waters over 200 years prior to Captain Cook's epic voyage of discovery, and certainly qualifies Drake as one of the greatest seamen and explorers of all time.  


Bawlf believes that Drake searched the great west coast archipelago for the entrance to the Northwest Passage, finally arriving at Chatham Strait, Alaska in July 1579.  Though Bawlf offers much documentary evidence to support his theory, most compelling are the records that Drake experienced bitterly cold weather and was finally turned back by ice. It is difficult to conceive that Drake could have encountered ice off the coast of Oregon in June or July of any year, even taking into account the colder weather prevailing in the sixteenth century. However, in the Alaska panhandle, cool summer weather is often the norm, and the great glaciers would most likely have been advancing into the sea, and calving icebergs at an accelerated rate--accounting for the ice and severe weather Drake experienced.  

Bawlf also believes that on his return to warmer waters, he also explored Johnstone Straits and Georgia Strait, and that the name Nova Albion refers to Vancouver Island instead of Northern California.  

The Golden Hinde returned to England via the Indian Ocean, arriving in Plymouth on September 20, 1580. In the little ship's holds was a fortune in Spanish treasure and Moluccan spices. Clearly the Queen of England was delighted even though the dream of a Northwest passage continued elusive.

National Portrait Gallery, London

Drake played a major role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588. It is rumoured that Drake was bowling when informed that the Armada had been sighted in the English Channel. He turned to the messenger and calmly announced that he would finish his game first, and then see to the Spaniards. True to his word, Drake, and the other English captains, took their handy little ships directly alongside the monstrous Spanish galleons.

While the Spanish guns were firing over their heads and through their sails, the little ships were able to place every shot where it counted, through the hulls of the galleons at the waterline. Before long, the English Channel and the North Sea storms finished off the armada. Only a few of the hundreds of Spanish ships ever made it home again.

Shipwrecked Spanish sailors drifted ashore in huge numbers in Scotland and Ireland, and though most were murdered as soon as they landed, a few remained, and donated their swarthy appearance to many Irish families (the Black Irish).

Whatever Drake's role in history--explorer, soldier, adventurer or pirate--he and his little ship, the Golden Hinde, have successfully created a place for themselves in legend.

Replica of the Golden Hinde, built in 1973





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Last updated August 2023